2013 UPDATE: NHL Waiver Rules in Plain English

The NHL waiver rules manage to confuse everyone sooner or later, even the experts. So I took a stab at translating them. Here’s my version of Article 13 of the CBA, in plain English:


13.2 The “Playing Season Waiver Period”

The “Playing Season Waiver Period” (which I will call “waiver period”) begins 12 days before the start of the regular season and ends the day after a team’s season ends.

  • In September, 2012, the league and the NHLPA moved up the start of this period in order to allow teams to assign players to the AHL before the 9/15 lock-out date.
  • In January, 2013, when the new CBA was signed, the playing season waiver-period (re-) commenced immediately. (For more on what happened to players who signed AHL-only contracts during the lock-out, see this.)
  • Once the playing season waiver period commences, players who are not waiver-exempt (explained below) must pass through waivers before they are loaned to another team (e.g. their minor league affiliate).
  • A player may be loaned to a club of another league if (a) he’s already been through waivers during the current waiver period and (b) the Player has not played in 10 or more NHL Games since the last time he went through waivers, and (c) more than 30 days have not passed since the last time he went through waivers.
  • In other words, if a player just went through waivers within the last month and hasn’t played in many games, he’s not going to have to clear waivers again.

13.3 Re-Entry Waivers.

If you have to clear waivers to go down, you also have to clear waivers to go up. Under the 2013 CBA, re-entry waivers have been eliminated. They are gone. They don’t exist. Strike them from your consciousness.

13.4 Exempt Players.

When a player signs his first contract, he’s exempt from waivers for a certain period, the length of which depends on his age when he signed, and whether he is a skater or a goalie.

In general:

  • The rules are different for goalies and skaters (i.e. goalies compared to skaters) who sign at ages 18-22.
  • Goalies who sign at 18-22 get an extra year of exemption, compared to skaters.
  • Goalies who sign at 18-22 get fewer games played of exemption, compared to skaters.
  • The rules are the same for goalies and skaters who sign at age 23+.

Some definitions:

  • For skaters, “games” means games dressed.
  • For goalies, “games” means games played (i.e. games in which the goalie actually played in the game).
  • “NHL Games” includes regular season and playoff games.
  • A “year” of exemption means a playing season.
  • A player’s age is defined as the age he will be on his birthday in that calendar year. For example, if a player signs his first contract in May, and in June he turns 19, he is considered to be 19 “when he signed.”


Goalies Skaters
Age Years Games Years Games
18 6 80 5 160
19 5 80 4 160
20 4 80 3 160
21 4 60 3 80
22 4 60 3 70
23 3 60 3 60
24 2 60 2 60
25+ 1 1

The exemption ends immediately when


  9 comments for “2013 UPDATE: NHL Waiver Rules in Plain English

  1. Kpaq
    March 20, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    I recall a time when a player cleared waivers the cap hit would be split by the two teams involved. Does this still apply. Komasarek for example, he’s a 4.5mil cap hit, would the Leafs take on half if someone else picks him up? I need clarification on this rule. Thanks.

    • March 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM

      You’re thinking of re-entry waivers, in which the salary of a claimed player would be split by the former team and the new team. However, re-entry waivers have been eliminated in the new CBA. So the team that claims the player gets the whole salary.

Add Comment Register

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.